NBA fans likely did not expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to be clinging to an NBA Play-In spot over the Dallas Mavericks, or even the Portland Trail Blazers. This young group would still be ions away from the postseason if not for a true superstar season by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The 24-year-old point guard has enjoyed an All-Star season that will culminate with an All-NBA selection. Even more than those accolades, though, is the massive impact he has had on the Thunder. Gilgeous-Alexander joins elite company in Kevin Durant as the only players in franchise history to record 2,000 points, 50 steals and 50 blocks in a single season, according to StatMuse. He has proven the organization correct for doling out a five-year, $172 million extension in 2021.

Gilgeous-Alexander has carried the offense all season with 31.4 points per game (fourth in NBA), including Friday night when he scored 39 points on 11-of-17 shooting and an immaculate 17-of-17 from the free throw line. It was still not enough to edge out the Indiana Pacers, who handed the Thunder (38-40) a potentially costly 121-17 loss. They are just a half-game ahead of the enigmatic Mavericks with three of their last four games of the season coming against teams in the top six of the Western Conference.

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A postseason trip would give Gilgeous-Alexander the spotlight he deserves after his colossal efforts, but this has been a landmark year for him and the franchise regardless. OKC is brimming with promise and resilience. Their time should be coming eventually.

Gilgeous-Alexander is already one of the best guards in the league right now. He has a legitimate claim for First-Team All-NBA honors. Thunder fans have desperately waited for their next savior since Durant broke their hearts in 2016.

His successor may have officially arrived.